The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will host a public meeting concerning striped bass from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3, at the American Legion on Radiance Drive in Cambridge.

According to fisheries managers, the fishing mortality has been too high for striped bass and not enough fish have been born to replenish the fish taken.

Unfortunately, government agencies often over-complicate management issues and we’re now tasked with trying to understand Addendum VI to the ASMFC’s Striped Bass Management Plan.

The ASMFC is a coast-wide body that states from Maine to Florida agree to take part in managing fisheries that migrate up and down the coast. Each state has three representatives that sit at the table, and with some federal employees they work to create a plan based on data about fish stocks.

To simplify matters, we can look at the common sense approach supported by the Coastal Conservation Association, which seems to support the best interests of all the stakeholders.

In a press release by David Sikorski, executive director CCA Maryland, he states his organization supports Option 2 of Addendum VI – Equal Percent Reductions for all sectors. What could be wrong with that? Seems fair to me.

CCA Maryland also strongly opposes Option 3. According to the press release, this “option reflects a reallocation of harvest from recreational fishing to commercial fishing based on estimates of one year’s harvest data. This is NOT the correct way to reallocate catch. No analysis was done or is planned to understand the socio-economic impacts of a reallocation, therefore one should not be done via this addendum.”

If anything, reallocation to greater support recreational angling makes more sense economically (and ethically) if we’re talking dollars and cents. I said that. Plenty of other species can support commercial special interest groups. Lowering the catch-size limit to 16 inches also sounds good to me. Can you get two nice fillets out of a 16-inch fish. I’m thinking that you can, but I’ve never been allowed to keep a 16-inch striped bass. Are there less toxins in a 16-inch fish than an 18-inch fish? Yes.

Naturally, reducing fishing mortality will provide for a greater abundance and proper management can help to develop a stock of larger, older fish.

According to Sikorski, “CCA Maryland supports conservation equivalency measures that meet or exceed the 18% reduction for all sectors, and are approved by the Technical Committee and SB [Striped Bass] Board.”

The October meeting of the ASMFC Striped Bass Management Board is scheduled for Oct. 30. At the meeting, the board will likely act on Addendum VI and make decisions for the next steps.

One of those steps is Maryland’s completion of a Conservation Equivalency Plan in an effort to match harvest reduction levels decided by the board. Maryland leaders can choose to develop a plan that does not equitably reduce the harvest. I’m thinking they’ll probably do that. Nonetheless, it can’t hurt to voice your opinion at the meeting.

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Fishing report

Overall, the Chesapeake Bay seems to be teeming with Spanish mackerel and some large red drum are providing exciting catch-and-release action. The recent absence of rain has helped bring salinities closer to normal, allowing some more salt-loving fish to push further up the bay. As surface waters cool 3 to 4 degrees overnight, shoal areas at first light will often hold larger striped bass. Later in the morning when surface waters rewarm, larger rockfish will move back towards nearby deeper waters.

Trolling is a good option along channel and shoal edges, using a mix of small spoons, bucktails, and red or green hoses behind inline weights. Jigging is a great option when you spot suspended striped bass on a depth finder or encounter breaking fish. Many anglers are using soft plastic jigs, casting to channel edges or structure. The breaking fish are usually small striped bass, but larger fish can sometimes be found close to the bottom. Stripers can also be found holding tight to Bay Bridge structure and rock piles, where jigging or live-lining can be productive.

Catfish — a mix of flathead, blue, and channel cats — will take a fresh cut bait, clam snouts, or other popular baits. It’s not uncommon for them to also chase down a swimshad, a soft plastic jig, or a Rat-L-Trap as well. White perch are beginning to move down the region’s tidal rivers. They’re still being caught along shoreline structure on light tackle or with bait in deeper waters with bottom rigs.

High-speed trolling at 5-7 knots is an effective technique for Spanish mackerel. Pulling small spoons behind inline weights and small planers has been the most popular tactic to catch them. The mackerel are being found along the eastern edge of the shipping channel from Bloody Point south past Buoys 83 and 84 to the little Choptank. Another good location is the western side of the shipping channel from the mouth of the Severn River south past Thomas Point and down to Cove Point. Many anglers are also pulling one or two large spoons in their trolling spread to entice large red drum.

The Eastern Bay area and tidal rivers are all providing topwater action in the early morning and evening hours for rockfish. Speckled trout are also biting on our side of the bay. Casting Gulp mullet baits in pink or white has been a good choice, either under a popping cork or by themselves. Anglers have also had good luck in the early morning or evening hours casting Zara Spooks over grass or stump fields.

Recreational crabbers are enjoying some of the finest success of the season right now with large crabs that are full and heavy. Crabbers can put together a full bushel of good crabs per outing in the middle and lower bay regions.

On the Atlantic Coast, surf anglers are catching kingfish and spot on pieces of bloodworms. Anglers using cut spot or mullet are catching some small bluefish; sand fleas are drawing some pompano and small black drum. Some large flounder are being caught in the inlet on live spot, mullet, and Gulp baits.

Off the coast, sea bass fishing has taken an upturn. Limit catches are fairly common on many party boats with a few flounder in the mix.

Farther offshore, anglers are coming back to the docks with limit catches of chicken dolphinfish and some gaffer-sized mahi-mahi. White marlin releases have been common along with a few blue marlin. Larger yellowfin tuna are being caught and tilefish are providing some deep drop action.

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Duck blind know-it-all

The word avocado comes from Spanish aguacate, which in turn comes from the Nahuatl ahuacatl, meaning testicle.

Follow me on Twitter @csknauss / email me at cknauss@stardem.com

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